A Driver’s Guide to Deer Dating (Mating) Season
Love sometimes makes us all a little crazy, and deer are particularly unpredictable during mating season. In Kansas this season peaks from late September through early January. Females are in heat and males are chasing them across areas they would ordinarily avoid, like roads, so use extra caution when driving this time of year. In this article, we’ll share some tips for avoiding deer related collisions, and what to do if you encounter one of these Romeos on the road.
Deer collisions are on the rise
Thanks to effective game management, deer populations are increasing across the USA—and so are related auto accidents. There are currently over a million deer collisions every year, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. It’s more important now than ever to have a game plan.
How to avoid a deer collision
1. Be extra watchful at night, dawn and dusk. Let’s be clear: bucks are completely cuckoo both day and night during the rutting season, but the hours of darkness and near darkness are peak times for their unpredictable behavior. And obviously, it’s much harder for drivers to see anything at night; so slow down and focus on the road—and the side of the road. If you see small flashes of light, it may be deer eyes reflecting your headlights. If you’re driving during the day, watch for deer approaching on both sides of the road ahead.
2. Watch for multiple deer. If you see a deer near the road, it’s time to slow down, in case there are more. Females often travel in groups, and during mating season, eligible, young bucks follow them. If you see one deer, there may be more hiding close by.
3. Pay attention to warning signs. Known high-traffic areas for deer are often marked with diamond-shaped warning signs. Wildlife and highway officials place these in areas known to have large deer populations.
(Deer crossing signs are placed where deer populations are dense around roadways…)
4. Honk the horn in long blasts if you see deer. Leaning on the horn is your best strategy to frighten deer away from the road. Even if you don’t see any, it never hurts to honk periodically if you’re driving through an area with trees, water or growing crops—places where deer usually live—just to let them know you’re there. You may have heard of ultrasonic deer whistles, and it’s okay to mount them on your vehicle if it makes you feel better, but there is no proof that they actually work.
Sometimes it’s best to hit the deer
Here’s an important statistic: most fatalities and serious injuries result from drivers trying not to hit a deer in their path. Yes, if you hit a deer, it’s going to damage your vehicle, but the results are usually worse for drivers who swerve to miss them, i.e., going off the road, careening into other vehicles or hitting something else.
If you see a deer in the road ahead, apply your brakes, grip the steering wheel and try to bring your vehicle to a stop, but keep the vehicle on the road or at least the shoulder.
Wear your seatbelt
Seatbelts save lives in any kind of potential collision, including deer hits. Put it on and keep it on, whether you’re in deer country or not.
If you hit a deer
Don’t panic. It’s more important now than ever to keep your wits sharp and follow these steps:
- Pull off the road if you can.
- Switch on your hazard lights.
- Stay in your vehicle, survey the traffic situation, and exit the vehicle only when you’re sure it’s safe.
- If the deer is near, stay clear of it, even if it’s not moving. Injured deer may lie still for long periods of time as if dead, but if they move again, they can easily injure you.
- Call 911 if there are any injuries or property damage, or if the deer presents a danger to other drivers.
- Call your insurance agent.
Should you drive your vehicle after a deer hit?
Your vehicle may be drivable after a deer hit, and it may not. Before driving away from a deer collision, check for broken headlights, an unlatchable hood, parts hanging loose, tire damage, leaking fluids or anything that may render the vehicle unsafe.
Does insurance cover deer collisions?
Most insurance providers cover a deer collision under comprehensive and collision coverage, but a collision policy may not cover you if you don’t actually hit the deer. Contact your insurance agent about the type of coverage you have.
How much does deer-collision repair cost?
There’s no easy answer to this. Call your insurance agent and Auto Paint Repair to learn what kind of cost options are available to make your vehicle safe, drivable and attractive again. For minor damage, you may not even want to file an insurance claim, as this can raise your rates.